Belo Horizonte, Brazil is a city that blends traditional and modern. Its lush greenery and pleasant climate make for the perfect setting for those intent on discovering the charms of this metropolis. In July 2016, Belo Horizonte entered the noble catalog of Cultural Heritage of Humanity, a title awarded by UNESCO to the Modern Ensemble of Pampulha. Belo Horizonte hosts some of the most diverse and internationally recognized cultural and artistic festivals in Brazil, such as the Festival Internacional de Teatro (Theater Festival), Virada Cultural (24h Cultural Festival) and Fórum Internacional de Dança (Dance Forum). Most North American visitors will probably have to connect in Sao Paolo or Rio, but a visit to Belo Horizonte is worth it. Here are some must-see attractions in the region.
Modern Ensemble of Pampulha - The Pampulha Modern Ensemble was the center of a visionary garden city project created in 1940 at Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais State. Designed around an artificial lake, this cultural and leisure center included a casino, a ballroom, the Golf Yacht Club and the São Francisco de Assis church. The buildings were designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, in collaboration with other innovative artists. The Ensemble comprises bold forms of architecture, landscape design, sculpture and fine art. It reflects the influence of local traditions, the Brazilian climate and natural surroundings on the principles of modern architecture.
Praça da Liberdade - The Praça da Liberdade Cultural Circuit is the largest integrated set of cultural destinations in Brazil. The project was developed by the Government of Minas Gerais, through the Department of Culture in partnership with companies from the private sector. The old public buildings were transformed into interactive spaces that seek to highlight the regions diversity through historical, artistic and thematic collections; interactive cultural centers; library and workshop spaces, as well as a planetarium.
Central Market - Open in 1929 and considered one of the best markets in the world, the Belo Horizonte Central Market occupies an entire city block in downtown and is one of the most visited shopping spots of the capital. The market boasts more than 400 shops which sell a variety of products, such as fresh vegetables, meat, sweets, cachaça, regional crafts, cookware and spices. If you get hungry, just go to one of the numerous bars and restaurants and ask for liver with jiló. The delicacy, accompanied by a cold beer, is very famous. On Saturdays, it is traditional to eat a feijoada for lunch, that according to local residents, is the best in Brasil.
Savassi - Savassi is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Belo Horizonte. It is well known for its large number of bars, clubs, and cafés, and is a highly busy and developed shopping destination.Savassi takes its name from an Italian family, which owned a bakery in the central square, the Praça da Savassi, that time, Praça Diogo de Vasconcelos (Diogo de Vasconcelos Square), around the mid-1930s, and the bakery was named after the family's last name. The LGBT community visit Savassi for its abundance of art galleries, public parties and dance clubs.
Carnival - In 2017, Belo Horizonte hosted the largest Carnival in its history, when over three million people visited the city. The event propelled the destination towards the top of the list of Brazil’s main carnival destinations. This year’s Carnival began February 9 and runs until February 14.